Photo credit: Karli Michelle Photography
Fifteen years ago, CFA Foster Brigade volunteer Paula Crossley had an accident that left her a paraplegic and this International Day of People with a Disability Paula reflects on her time during recovery.
Paula said her brigade peers rallied around her, bringing a sense of community to ensure she knew she felt supported.
“I was an operational firefighter right up until the accident, and when I came back my role did look quite different,” Paula said.
“After my accident I couldn’t go to the fire brigade for a while. The brigade members were amazing at backing me up during that time, and they’ve been amazing at supporting me since.
“There’s been a lot of things I haven’t been able to do since the accident in terms of my role in the brigade, and it’s taken a while to try and figure out what I can do, but the brigade members are amazing at ensuring that I stay involved wherever I can.
“We’re planning a new station and they will be extending the toilets and widening doorways to make it easier for me there, so practical things like that, but just in every other aspect they have just tried to keep me involved – they always check in, always see how I'm going and offer a hand to see how they can help out.”
Paula joined CFA in 1981 and said her positive attitude helped her after her accident and she encourages anyone who thinks they may be unable to contribute to CFA to try volunteering and give it a go.
“Just after the accident I was told that anything I want to do can be done – it’s just up to me to put my mind to it and I’ll get there. That’s sort of been my motto ever since the accident. I’ve tried to just keep positive and push on.”
This Sunday 3 December marks International Day of People with Disability that aims to increase public awareness, understanding and acceptance of people with disability, and asks everyone to work together to make the world better and fairer for people with disability.
IDPwD helps raise awareness about the challenges and obstacles people with disabilities face, from physical accessibility issues to misconceptions and biases. It encourages open conversations about disability-related topics and how we can deliver better services to people living with disability in our communities.
This IDPwD, there are a number of ways to get involved and increase your awareness to help create an inclusive environment for all.
CFA has a number of free online modules available for home fire safety or bushfire safety. These modules are designed to increase your understanding of fire safety for yourself or those you care for.
The four modules cover a range of topics, including:
- Prevent Detect Escape – Home fire safety for people at higher risk
- Bushfire Safety for Workers
- Bushfire Planning: How to support your clients
- Bushfire Planning: You and the person you care for